2015 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 1.5L
Russian River Valley
Russian River Valley
Freestone Hill Vineyard
16 months in French oak (55% new)
Open top fermentation, cold soak, punch down
Freestone was one of our most impacted vineyards by the wet May weather, reducing set so much that we harvested earlier than ever, on September 3, at less than 1 ton per acre. The intensity of the fruit comes through right away in the nose, providing loads of saturated, rich wild blackberries surrounded by seductive sandalwood incense, begging you to take the first sip. When you do, you’re indulged with a mouthful of creamy, lush black raspberries, tinged with the trademark Freestone spice of cardamom, Asian five-spice and nutmeg, carried gorgeously on a layer of velvet. The mouthwatering finish is both deep and broad, lingering with sweet plums, toffee, and a hint of thyme.
Dutton Ranch’s Freestone Hill Vineyard was the pioneering outpost of the now coveted Salmon Creek viticultural neighborhood. Located in the extreme southwest corner of the Russian River Valley appellation, on the coastal side of the Petaluma wind gap, this area is at the climatic margin for ripening grapes. The fog reaches this neighborhood early and leaves late, but in great years we are rewarded with fruit of extraordinary concentration, balance and personality. Our vineyard, planted in 1996 and 1997, is located on a southeast-facing hillside above the little town of Freestone and only a few miles from Bodega Bay. The difficult flowering conditions give us tiny grape berries, low yield and thick skins for highly concentrated wines. The long cool season and limited crop provides for developed tannins and flavor, along with bright natural acidity and moderate alcohol. The upper 1996 planting includes clones 115, 2A and 114: co-fermented, the result is always dense, aromatic and spicy. The extremely steep 1997 lower planting is all 667, which provides crystalline blackberry/black cherry fruit.
The two blocks are harvested and fermented separately, but were blended soon after draining for long development in the barrel. To showcase the focus and concentration of this offering, no press wine is used in the blend. The individual lots are hand sorted and destemmed into small open top fermenters and the must is the cold-soaked for 5 days in order to gently extract color, spice and fruit characters, while mitigating harsher tannins. Because of its extremely small berries and thick skins, Freestone sees fewer and gentler punchdowns than many less demanding vineyards. The wine was racked in the spring of 2015 to hone the barrel choices. The unctuous, concentrated Freestone fruit beautifully handles the sweet wood of Fouquet barrels and the mushroom of Seguin Moreau Icone barrels.
Food Pairing Notes
This is a wine you may want to just ponder on its own, but it’s also wonderful with mushroom and gruyere flatbread or Middle Eastern-spiced eggplant stuffed with lamb.